Keep taking the red pills – embracing change in education

Keep taking the red pills – embracing change in education

At the British School in the Netherlands’ conference yesterday, #BSNconf16, I alluded to the popular meme from the film, The Matrix.

Take the blue pill and life continues as it always has – nothing changes. Take the red pill and face reality – embrace change.


Blue pill, red pill?

Education has to be a packet of red pills in order for it to continue to meet the changing needs of our children and young people. Luckily, in the British International education sector we get more opportunities to choose which red pills we take.

The BSN has developed considerably since 1931 and continues to grow; we now have 2300 pupils on roll. According to projections we need to ensure there will be sufficient senior school places for our junior school children. Responding to demand requires long term strategic planning and growth must not compromise quality.

And quality resides in our culture and the professionalism of our people – I’ve written about this before here. Which is why the first action, ahead of any build, will be to open the International Leadership Academy (ILA) from September 2016.


Proud to be launching the International Leadership Academy (ILA)

We need to secure the best applicants, train our own teachers and develop the careers of all our staff to secure our supply of appropriately qualified, inspiring colleagues. An advert for the Director of the ILA (who will initially be based in our Business Unit) is now live – please do have a look at the full remit of this post on our website.

Of course, we will also need more physical space to accommodate and inspire our students. The BSN does own some real estate in The Hague but a number of options are being considered. Once again, without compromising the outstanding academic outcomes our students achieve, we need to be sure that any facility/build best prepares and inspires our young people for their future.

This will require ambition, evidence based research and imagination to be encompassed in its design. Graham Brown-Martin’s keynote was a fantastic catalyst for our thinking. Our purpose needs to be clear and any design needs to remain to true our “North Star”:


I have written about Graham Brown-Martin’s book Learning {Re} imagined here.

Our vision is of an inter-disciplinary space serving all BSN children, young people and staff in addition to the traditional classrooms required. A space that reminds us all of the purpose of education and is, as far as possible, future proof.

We need to engage our imaginations and listen to our community to achieve this aim. The graphic below was taken from a poll of staff during the keynote and presents a challenge!


A graphic from the Pulse-Meester – about whom I’ve written here.

The poll was meant to be an instinctive, gut-reaction to the question – but it does tell us something useful. We have an opportunity to extend beyond capacity building and replication and take our existing excellent practice into the realms of something exciting and unique for our community.

There is a great deal of thinking and planning to do. Do let me know your thoughts.